Computer Eyestrain: 10 Steps for Relief

Experts estimate 50% to 90% of computer users experience some degree of eyestrain or other symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) during their work day.

Here are steps you can take to reduce computer eyestrain and the other common symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS):

1. Get a computer eye exam. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), computer users should have an eye exam before they start working on a computer and once yearly thereafter.

2. Use proper lighting. For the most comfortable computer use, ambient lighting should be about half as bright as that found in most offices.

3. Minimize glare. Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on the computer screen, can also cause computer eyestrain. You may want to install an anti-glare screen on your monitor.

4. Upgrade your display. LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. Old-fashioned CRT screens can cause a "flicker" of images on the screen. Even if this flicker is imperceptible, it can still contribute to eyestrain and fatigue during computer work.

5. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen. For more comfortable viewing, adjust the display settings on your computer so the brightness of the screen is about the same as that of your work environment.

6. Blink more often. Blinking is very important — it rewets your eyes to keep them moist, comfortable and clear.  This greatly increases the risk for dry eyes, blurred vision, eye irritation and fatigue.

7. Exercise your eyes. To reduce your risk of focusing fatigue during computer use, look away from your screen or monitor every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object across the room. Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscles inside your eyes, reducing focusing fatigue.

8. Take frequent breaks. Take frequent, short breaks from your computer work throughout the day. Stand up, walk away from your work station and stretch your arms, legs, back, neck and shoulders.

9. Modify your workstation. Looking back and forth between a printed page and your computer screen (as during data entry tasks), can also cause eyestrain. To improve comfort during these tasks, place the print material on a copy stand adjacent to your screen or monitor.

10. Consider computer eyewear. This is especially true if you normally wear contact lenses that can become dry and uncomfortable during sustained computer work.  Your eye doctor can prescribe specially designed computer eyewear to give you the best possible vision at your computer screen.  Keep in mind that computer glasses are a specific type of eyewear and typically should not be worn when driving.

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